This past summer I headed out to Barcelona for an extremely short stopover before I departed for my Azamara Cruise. I had very limited time but have always wanted to visit Barcelona so I made sure I did my research in advance and figured out all the must see places on my list in the most efficient way possible. I wanted to nail as many of Barcelona’s quintessential must-sees in the little time that I had. I couldn’t believe how many things I was able to squeeze into my short 2-day time frame. Here are my top things to see for the luxury traveler, especially if you’re only in town for a short while. This Barcelona itinerary gave me an excellent taste of Spain and I left feeling like I got a good sampling of the best Barcelona has to offer! Yes, I realize several places I visited are very touristy, but when you’re a first-time visitor like I was, you have to see them. They’re the mandatory stops you must visit before going to snack on tapas and wine!
The first stop on my Barcelona journey was Gaudi’s Casa Batlló. This gem is a marvel of design. Naturally, it was designed by Gaudi for one of the city’s famous aristocrats. Casa Batlló is definitely one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. This place is worth a visit–especially at night. The lights outside are miraculous. And do yourself a favor and learn about all the intricate details by getting an audio guide. It’s criminal not to. And remember–Buy your tickets online before you come to avoid a long line.
Next, wander over to Plaza Catalunya, one of the main tourist squares. It’s surrounded by many monumental buildings but it’s pretty much just a busy plaza–lots of tourists posing with pigeons, etc. I actually got pooped on by a pigeon here! Ick! My grand welcome! Two of Barcelona’s most famous streets start here:the Rambla and the Passeig de Gràcia. I would take a few photos here, look at the fountains and be on your way. But since it’s on the way to your next stop, might as well check this off the list!
If you head down La Ramblas, it will lead you to the city’s most famous shopping district. This is probably the biggest tourist trap but certainly worth a jaunt through. It’s the Champs-Élysées/ Times Square of Barcelona. I loved wandering the streets here and checking out the shops and outdoor vendors. We especially loved sampling some cured meats and goodies at St. Josep La Boqueria. It’s the largest food market in Barcelona! Ohh I must remind you, hold onto your purses and phones in this area. It’s infamous for pickpockets! While I didn’t personally (luckily) see anything, I have heard dozens of horror stories from friends.
We kept walking and eventually wandered up Passeig de Gracia, which is home to many of Barcelona’s posh shops. All the usual suspects are here if shopping is your intention.
For dinner, we headed over to Lolita, which is near the Poble Sec stop on the Metro line. I had hooked up with the editor at Barcelona Experience who recommended this restaurant. It was exactly what we were in the market for. When our taxi dropped us off, I wasn’t sure what we were in for. Random side street and an empty restaurant. But we were starving so we took refuge at the bar and immediately ordered up two glasses of rose. It wasn’t but maybe 20 minutes later that the place was packed! When we left there was a terribly long line. Turns out we had found a hotspot! And with good reason. Every morsel of food we ordered was authentic and delicious. Oh and our entire meal, even in Euros, only added up to about $70! And we had a feast–and two drinks each!
After dinner we walked over to Barcelona’s Magic Fountain–another iconic stop. I wasn’t expecting much and was looking forward to heading home after being up for over 24 hours but what we saw really amazed us. There is a night show with amazing synchronized water and music each evening. We had the best time. Prepare for massive crowds but it’s totally worth it.
The next morning we awoke extremely early hellbent on making our way to Park Güell before it got feverishly hot and crowded. We were there when it first opened and had the entire thing practically to ourselves! Park Güell is a public park that was commissioned by Gaudi for the aristocracy (sensing a theme yet?). It’s located on Carmel Hill, nestled in a mountain range. The views, the mosaics and the architecture will blow you away! Do get here early though to avoid the heaviest crowds.
Next, we were off to Barcelona’s crown jewel–Sagrada Familia. This Roman Catholic church was of course also designed by none other than Gaudi. It’s his unfinished masterpiece! Everything about this place is breathtaking. Definitely purchase your tickets before you come here too! There is timed entry and they’re very strict about scheduling but you’ll save yourself tons of time if you can skip the lines.
Finally, with just a couple hours to spare, we raced over to the Picasso museum to squeeze in just a little bit of Pablo! The Picasso Museum houses one of the most extensive collections of the Spanish artist. The line here wasn’t too bad and the museum wasn’t too overwhelming so we finished just in time.
I wish we had another week and I truly cannot wait to go back and see everything else the city has to offer! What are your favorite things to see and do in Barcelona? Let me know in the comments so I can add them to my Barcelona bucket list for when I return!
For a few more luxe experiences in Barcelona be sure to check out this post by Barcelona Experience!